How Do I Make Decisions About My Education?

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The decision to attend college or a trade school, resume an interrupted academic career, or go on to an advanced degree can be complicated and
multifaceted. In addition to predictable concerns about whether you have the time and money for further schooling, you also need to take into account how your mental illness may affect your ability to reach your goals. You'll need to look at this question from two perspectives: whether you can handle the demands of your educational career, and whether the institution you want to attend can accommodate your particular needs.

Start sorting things out with these questions, based on material developed by Steve Fishbein of the New Jersey Department of Mental Health and Hospitals:
 

Some Questions To Ask Yourself:
 

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Is education a priority for me? Is there anything else that needs to be
a higher priority for me right now?

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Is my illness sufficiently stabilized to allow me to concentrate on my
education?

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What was my previous experience with further schooling? Do I have any
issues I need to resolve from that experience?

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How much do I know about the demands of academic life, such as
registering for classes, navigating a campus, taking notes, reading and
writing assignments, or taking exams?

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What are my physical, intellectual, and emotional needs and limitations
in dealing with those demands?

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Do I have the persistence and confidence to face frustrations, get the
information I need from school administrators, and advocate for myself if
necessary? If not, can I get a support person to help me?

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Am I able to keep good records of applications, forms, and other material?

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Can I stick to my educational goals for at least one semester?

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If my situation changes, will I be able to reassess and adjust it
accordingly?
 

Some Questions To Ask The Educational Institution:

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Pay attention not just to the answers you get, but to the way people
react to your questions -- it will tell you a lot about how comfortable they
are with the issues that concern you!

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Who is responsible for helping students with disabilities? How hard is
it to find that person or service on campus?

What kind of accommodations has the school made for students with
disabilities? Ask for specific examples. Will those accommodations work for
you? If not, will they provide the accomodations you need?

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What happens when students become ill during the semester? Can you
finish assignments or exams at other sites? What's the process for a grade
of "incomplete"?

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Are there peer mentoring or other support groups on campus? Are any of
them especially for students with disabilities?

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Has the school offered its faculty any training or information about
working with students with disabilities? If so, what was it about? How long
ago? How many faculty members attended?

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How open are faculty and staff to working with students with disabilities?
 

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1997, 1998 Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Boston University

 

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